In September, Fox News insinuated there would be significant job growth if unemployment benefits were cut, but many of the network’s hosts continue to opine about the effect of the extended insurance despite this month’s lacking job numbers. Some have started to blame vaccine mandates and even the unemployed themselves.
On September 6, an estimated 7.5 million-plus people lost benefits completely, and millions more saw a $300 reduction in their weekly unemployment benefits. The latest jobs report, released October 8, suggests that these people have not been able to get jobs en masse since the programs ended over a month ago, revealing that only 194,000 jobs were added, well below the 500,000 expected. (It should be noted, though, that 317,000 private sector jobs were added; the Department of Labor says the main cause of the disappointing overall number was a decline in government jobs and a shaky beginning of in-person school during the surge of the delta variant.) This has been the lowest job gain since President Joe Biden took office. As Matt Bruenig of the People’s Policy Project noted:
The stated purpose of cutting these benefits was to get people back to work. The idea was that pandemic unemployment benefits have been keeping people from accepting jobs and that cutting the benefits would therefore result in large employment gains. This did not work when half of the states cut pandemic unemployment benefits over the summer and it did not work in September when they were cut nationwide.
Right-wing media have frequently attacked pandemic unemployment benefits, and Fox Business cheered when they ended at the beginning of September. Making Money host Charles Payne asked, “Is this really a mean-spirited move or just tough love?” Now that his prediction on unemployment benefits appears to be incorrect, he is blaming Americans:
Fox News personalities have continued to blame the expired pandemic unemployment benefits as well as generic welfare amid the latest jobs report, with some even attempting to fearmonger about vaccine mandates and criticize workers:
- Fox News host Maria Bartiromo lamented the results and continued to blame unemployment benefits for the labor participation rate: “This is the number that sticks out to you in this report because it underlines the negative impact of all of that stimulus being thrown at people. Even though the unemployment extended benefits went away, they're still saying, I'm not ready to go back to work. I’ve got enough money and I'm expecting more money to come at me -- creating this welfare state. Not good.”
- On America’s Newsroom, economist Stephen Moore claimed, “We would have about 800,000 more people working if the blue states had gotten those unemployment rates — benefits down. My point is it's not just the unemployment benefits. The whole package and panoply of all these programs that are paying people not to work.” When asked why the jobs report was underwhelming, Moore said: “It's pretty clear. We've expanded food stamps, we’re giving people $300 per child without any work requirements. We’re — the rental assistance. All of these welfare payments — we’re basically paying people not to work.”
- Americans for Tax Reform founder Grover Norquist blamed welfare for unemployment while discussing the September jobs report: “If you weren’t working, and Biden is telling people, I’m going to give you several thousand dollars, or several thousand dollars a month, and we’re going to give you all these benefits and nobody asks you to work or even look for work, how much do you look for work and how much do you wait for the check that Biden says he is sending you?” He also made the misleading claim that “red states have lower unemployment stats than blue states” as a result of many red states cutting the extended benefits earlier this year. But states both with and without those benefits saw similar employment growth rates earlier in the year.
- Fox News anchor Harris Faulkner said vaccine mandates could make the unemployment numbers “worse.” She said 194,000 “is far, far below the estimates anticipating 500,000 jobs would be added. The continuing COVID pandemic is seen as a factor as the delta variant hit hard last month. And these numbers could get worse. As some economists are telling us, vaccine mandates could cause another economic crisis.”
- The Story with Martha MacCallum hosted fast food maven Andy Puzder and The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway to discuss the jobs report. Puzder blamed workers and benefits for the low job numbers: “The problem isn’t a shortage of jobs. The problem is a shortage of workers. So if the programs you’re proposing are government spending to create jobs, we don’t really need jobs. We have the jobs. And the other thing you're spending on is discouraging people from working by providing benefits to people who don't work.” Meanwhile, MacCallum framed the jobs report around vaccine mandates with her other guest. Hemingway said, “You have vaccine mandates and other issues that are making people not want to work.”